Where Minimalism Started for Me: Decluttering the Physical Stuff

It was August 2011 and my hometown was close to flooding. These flood scares happened so often that I knew the drill. What to move up to second floor and what to move out to a moving truck. The following year I finally convinced my parents to downsize and move out of the flood zone. I literally inherited every picture I ever drew since birth and about a third of the contents of their house. It filled a half of an extra large 2 car garage.

I was paralyzed when I looked at all of the stuff. I had no emotionally attachment to a finger painting I did in preschool. Yet every time I looked at the piles of over flowing boxes I became paralyzed. The stuff sat there for four years.

My husband gently suggested that I go through the pile to see what I wanted to keep. But deep down I knew that nothing there was sentimental to me. Some of the stuff I never saw before. Other stuff included a doll collection I guess I was supposed to display for my whole life. I had no emotional attachment. This stuff was in a detached garage that I never used. It was out of my sight and out of my mind.

Eventually we decided to redo our kitchen in 2016. I asked the contractor if I could toss some things into the dumpster if there was space left over. Thankfully he agreed. I started blindly tossing these boxes away until there was no more space left in the dumpster.

I was not done with the pile though. But the decluttering bug was in me!

In May of 2018 I finally read Marie Kondo’s books because I was aware of the spark joy notion from listening to a By The Book podcast episode. I spent that weekend reading both of her books, tidying my closet, and donating books. That summer I took a long weekend to do the rest of the KonMari process.

  • Pay stubs from my first job. Why?
  • Doctor notes from my birth. Why?
  • Decorations that clearly my parents did not want but couldn’t bear to toss out. Why?

My husband and I made about 5 or so trips to the Salvation Army plus tossed close to 15 bags that weekend.

I skipped the Christmas decorations until it was Christmas time. The last piece was a plastic tote of lose pictures that I happily discarded about half of them.

My personal tidying event was over! Nothing falls out of my closet, I wear all of the clothes in my closet (because I only kept the ones I love!), and I can find anything else in under 5 minutes.

We worked together to go through the kitchen and other joint spaces.

My husband agreed to letting me refold and organize his clothes. At the end of that process I made some suggestions on items he might want to get rid of. Like a sock that was missing its mate. A jacket with a broken zipper.

Now I walk around our house feeling weightless.

Fall in my hometown

3 thoughts on “Where Minimalism Started for Me: Decluttering the Physical Stuff

  1. So great. My decluttering efforts always falter because it’s really hard for me to physically get stuff out of my house. I live in Manhattan, so I have to either wait for someone to get my stuff, carry it on the train to a donation drop-off point, or throw it in the trash (and I can’t bear to waste usable stuff). Oy.


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